Risks of hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a complex surgical procedure involving the total removal of the uterus. In addition, some hysterectomy procedures also remove the ovaries and cervical tissue. This procedure can be used to treat a number of issues, from uterine fibroids to uterine and cervical cancer. While the procedure can be life-changing and even life-saving, it does come with the potential for complications.

Potential Risks Of Undergoing Hysterectomy

While there are no risk-free medical procedures, the complications are specific to each one. Hysterectomy procedures involve the removal of a significant amount of tissue, so there is a greater number of potential risk factors.  

  • Bleeding – Following the procedure, there is a small risk of hemorrhage or heavy bleeding.
  • Ureter damage – The tube through which urine passes from the bladder may be damaged in 1/100 cases.
  • Infection – Infections are a risk with any medical procedure
  • Blood clots – Blood clots, or thrombosis, can form in a vein and interfere with blood and oxygen flow around the body. Getting mobile as soon as is safe following your surgery can help prevent them.
  • Vaginal problems – If a vaginal hysterectomy is done involving the removal of your cervix, a variety of problems may occur. These include slow cleaning to prolapse later in life.
  • Ovary failure – If one or both of your ovaries remain after the hysterectomy, they may fail within five years of the procedure. They receive a portion of their blood supply via the womb, which has been removed.

Bowel or bladder damage can occur during the procedure, resulting in a set of related problems. This damage is often repairable after the procedure. However, it may become necessary to have a temporary colostomy or catheter until the repair can be done. The following symptoms may exist until this point:

  • Infection
  • Incontinence
  • Needing to pee frequently

It’s also possible for certain hysterectomy procedures to put the patient into early menopause. This occurs when the ovaries are removed as part of the procedure. As the ovaries produce the necessary hormones that fade with the onset of menopause, menopausal symptoms are possible. 

  • hot flushes
  • sweating
  • vaginal dryness
  • disturbed sleep

While vaginal dryness can impact your sex life, it’s also possible for your libido to be impacted by the hysterectomy. This occurs when the ovaries are removed, as estrogen and testosterone are important in sexual drive.

Complications From General Anesthesia

Another potential risk comes from the type of anesthesia required for these procedures. Hysterectomies also require the patient to be put under a general anesthetic. General anesthesia complications only happen in 1 out of every 10,000 cases, typically involving neurological damage or an allergy to the anesthesia. Death is another potential risk but only occurs in approximately 1 out of 150,000 cases. Your odds are significantly reduced if you’re in good health.

Contact your specialist if you’re being scheduled for a hysterectomy and want to learn more about the procedure. They can help you prepare and take steps to prevent avoidable ones.

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